COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

In response to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 virus, the Hong Kong Government has announced Economic relief package and Anti-epidemic Fund to help individuals and industries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has responded to the needs of the public and the society in an unprecedented manner, to help businesses stay afloat; to keep workers in employment; to relieve financial burdens of individuals and businesses; and to assist the economy to recover once the epidemic is contained.

Since the beginning of this year, the Government has launched three rounds of measures totalling HK$287.5 billion (US$36.85 billion) to assist the affected industries and the public, including:

1. The first phase of the HK$30 billion Anti-epidemic Fund approved by the Legislative Council on February 21;

2. The HK$120 billion relief package in the 2020-21 Budget announced by the Financial Secretary on February 26;

3. The second phase of the HK$137.5 billion Anti-epidemic Fund announced on April 8.

The second phase of the Anti-epidemic Fund, which the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, described as unprecedented, include introducing an $80 billion Employment Support Scheme under which wage subsidies will be provided to eligible employers, and providing 16 types of support for specific sectors totalling $21 billion. In addition, the Government will enhance the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, help the MTR Corporation to provide a 20 per cent fare discount, temporarily relax the monthly threshold of the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme, grant interest-free deferral of loan repayments to all student loan repayees, allow deferrals of tax payments, and more, benefiting many businesses and people.

Four major components in the package:

1. Job retention, job creation, job advancement
2. Sector specific relief
3. Government rental concessions, fee waivers, deferral of loans
4. Government facilitation in other areas

On job retention, the government will launch a HK$80 billion employment subsidy scheme
– All employers making MPF contributions are eligible
– Capped at $9,000 per month (i.e. 50% of monthly median wage of HK$18,000) per employee for six months

On job creation, the government and private sectors will create 30,000 time-limited jobs at a cost of $6 billion; civil service will recruit 10,000 people in 2020-21

On sector specific relief, HK$21 billion pledged for 16 support measures.

“Fight the Virus and Get through the Difficult Times Together” Powerpoint of the Chief Executive’s Press Conference

“Fight the Virus and Get through the Difficult Times Together” Supplementary Information

Useful information can be found under the following links

Press releases and transcripts

Government announces measures involving over $130 billion to support enterprises, employees and the public
https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202004/08/P2020040800810.htm
“Given the epidemic’s catastrophic impact on Hong Kong’s economy, the Government has to dig deep into its fiscal reserves accumulated over the years to help our businesses and people. With Hong Kong’s fundamental strengths and our people’s resilience, we are confident that our city can ride out this storm and Hong Kong can be relaunched.” – CE Carrie

 

Transcript of remarks at press conference
https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202004/09/P2020040900021.htm
As far as the assurance, that if wage subsidy will go to the employees, the first thing is 100 per cent of the wage subsidies provided by the Hong Kong SAR Government have to be spent on wages. The employer could not deploy the money for other purposes and we will put in place very robust auditing after the event because I don’t want to have detailed vetting before paying out. The employees and employers are now very short of cash. They need money. – CE Carrie Lam

 

ExCo supports Government’s further relief measures
https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202004/08/P2020040800664.htm
The ExCo Non-official Members note that the measures announced by the Government are all-encompassing in scope and unprecedented in scale and intensity. The measures include assistance to businesses from all sectors, programmes for retaining jobs, as well as relief measures for easing the financial burden of the public. These measures should alleviate the pandemic’s effect on the economy and pave the way for economic recovery.